Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by keithslawnc, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. keithslawnc

    keithslawnc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 209

    Need some employee advise. I have a guy that has work for me 7 out of the last 9 years. He is my head guy. His rate of pay is $ 14.00/hr and is paid a 35 hr a week salary Nov-March. He also gets 5 paid sick/personal days per year and his choice of two paid of the following Holidays Labor,Memorial or the 4th of July). Thanksgiving he gets Thursday,Friday paid and $100 grocery gift card. Then at Christmas he gets Christmas day, New years eve, New years day, and 5 day paid vacation. Depending on how the days fall, he has had 11 straight off including vacation.

    Now the problem is he has a bad sense of entitlement, he resist doing anything like cleaning the office/bathroom, washing trucks or mowers etc. Also he is 47 y/o and is not capable of working over 45 hrs a week and during the winter months he never comes close to his 35 hrs. The problem is last year he had some health problems that later was linked to the 10-12 beers he drinks Monday-Thursday and the 16-18 he drinks Friday-Sunday. He doesn't feel that this affects his performance(which it does). This leads to him missing 10 working days last year,which I paid him for. Now this year, as of this am he has called in 3 Monday's in a row and has wanted me to pay him his sick time and his salary which he has only work approx. 27 out of the 35 hrs. He has also told me the last 3 years that this is going to be his last year but never leaves.

    Now for the positives: he is very good at his job, good with the crew, great with the customers and you never have to check behind him.

    The problem is his sense of entitlement, he will not push the employees much past an 8 hr day, misses a fair amount of work and is never happy with what he gets. he always tries to work the system and get more from me.

    What would you guy suggest to do! Thanks Keith
  2. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,226

    You need to spell it out for him in clear terms, probably in writing. Have you come up with an employee handbook that all employees must sign? The duties should be written out to include all the field work, as well as shop work. If he can't clean the toilets, then he shouldn't use the toilet. You are more patient than I am, as I would have let him go a long time ago for consistently calling in "sick". You are paying him for WAY too much time off considering his track record. If he wants all the vacation and sick pay, he needs to show up when there is work to be done. Remember, you are the employer, he is the employee. You take the risk, not him. You lose money when he doesn't show up, not him. Take away the paid sick days, and have them available for "incentives" for him to show up.
  3. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,140

    Keith, it sounds like you know what you have to do, but want to bounce this off of the rest of us to make sure you are thinking this through.


    We all see this, a guy who is good in some ways, determined not to be any good in other ways, and feels like you need him, but he does not need you.

    Yes, you have worked with this guy for a long time, and he has probably come through for you in the past, maybe even gone the extra mile. You hope that he can improve when it comes to the drinking and not showing up for work.

    The thing that tells me this is the end of the road is the alcohol and sense of entitlement that you speak of.

    This is your business, your income, your future and all that you have in this world. You know you have worked for everything you have and that it is up to you to earn what you want and achieve your goals. The guy you have described has a point of view that is opposite of yours, it is counter productive and a recipe for failure. I expect that you knew all this.

    You mentioned the man's age so you are suspicious of what I can confirm. In the next few years this person is going to render himself disabled with the alcohol. Anyone over fifty can tell you that the human body becomes less capable of performing a manual labor job at the age of fifty, and if you add a lot of alcohol and the other health related issues that come with it the prognosis is extremely bad.

    The only thing you can do to help this poor fool out is to fire him. Maybe that way he will be forced to take a more reasonable look at his situation and be motivated to make the changes.

    If you are not familiar with alcoholism and it's effect on a persons ability to be rational, then consider this situation a learning experience. Alcoholics have the strange ability to justify absolutely outrageous and unacceptable behavior. They ruin their careers, families, and lives, all the while telling themselves that it is not their fault. Often they say (and actually believe) that the reason they drink is because of their wife, job, responsibilities, economy, etc. They can create great hardships for themselves, family and employer and then turn around and blame the victims for the problem.

    I am like most people when it comes to firing someone. I obsess for days and hate to have to do it. The few people that have a lot of experience firing people will always tell you, just do it and be done with it, and it does no good to delay or look back. In many cases like this, you are doing the person a favor of giving them the wake up call that is probably long overdue.

    What you need to do is give someone else the opportunity to do right by you and give you what you are paying for. If you think that it is hard or unfortunate to let this guy go, then consider how unfair it is for you to not get what you are paying for, and even worse how someone is being cheated out of the chance to make good for themselves and for you.
  4. 93Chevy

    93Chevy LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 42,122

    Maybe I'm coming from the wrong angle here, but you're paying him $14/hr after he's been there 7 years?

    If I worked that long for somebody and only made that much, well, I wouldn't be there that long.

    What about trying to get him help for his alcohol problems instead of just passing him along?
  5. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,506

    14hr plus those benefits would be a good deal in FL. He basically gets paid to sweep the shop in winter. An alcoholic has to want help and admit he has a problem. I grew up with one. Its agonizing.
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  6. 93Chevy

    93Chevy LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 42,122

    To the OP, how many employees do you have, and how long have the others been there?

    What makes him different than your other employees?

    Is he one of the only employees working in the winter because he's on salary?

    How do his pay/benefits compare to the other employees?
  7. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,358

    The let him go theme is good but I would look at the timing of it.

    Do you have someone already in mind to replace him? Someone trained? If not it might be good to wait, train one in during the season and let this guy go before the winter gravy train comes.

    When does mowing start for you? If soon, you have invested his winter pay to keep him for the profitable season. Are you willing to loose the investment?

    Also how much documentation do you have? The UI will take a hit if you don't have it documented. If he has a drinking issue he might milk it out.

    If he is toxic to the crew dump him now without thinking of the above.

    Just some things to consider.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,140

    Getting him help would be great, and it would work in a perfect world or a disney movie. But the truth is most of the time people who reach out to help end up being blamed, resented, or worse. That is the crazy nature of the "disease".

    In reality, what you are suggesting is that the employer continue to pay for the work that is not getting done and also spend time in an effort to help him to do what he can only do for himself, and what any employee must do before reporting for work. What next? Raise the prices of service and call it a hangover surcharge:drinkup:

    I cannot help thinking that in an area with an historic unemployment rate, that there is not someone out there that can get to work, do the job, and be happy to be doing it.

    93chevy, how much are landscape foreman earning in your area? I do not think that there are many better deals to be had in Florida. And even if there were, the guy would have show up for work.
  9. 93Chevy

    93Chevy LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 42,122

    I wasn't asking him to get him help, I was merely suggesting the possibility. Sorry.

    And second of all, he's been with you seven years. Doesn't that count for anything?

    And Mark, I'm a landscape foreman as I'm no longer self employed. I started 11 months ago. I started at 10.50, and I'm currently at 12.50 and due for another raise at my 1 year anniversary. Another foreman who's been at my company 5 years makes about 35k salary, and the maintenance manager makes a little over 45k salary and he's been there 7 years. Plus every employee (after a probationary period) partial medical, 6 paid holidays, partial portable phone reimbursement, large pay increase for snow, plus an increasing amount of paid time off (2 days after 6 months, 7 days after a year, 14 days after 3 years, etc)
  10. WHIPPLE5.7

    WHIPPLE5.7 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 958

    I've just gotta ask. Is that beers total daily or 10-12 over the course of 4 days? What kind of health problems? I would think a guy could have 3 beers a day without problems but if its 12 daily that's alittle differant.
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